Rezoning on deck at Chilliwack city hall for beverage processor

A Molson Coors rep confirmed Chilliwack is 'preferred' location for new brewery but due diligence efforts keep them mum on further details

Site plan submitted to City of Chilliwack by applicant. Molson Coors recently confirmed Chilliwack is a preferred location of its new brewery. The plan calls for rezoning seven properties on Elder Avenue for a beverage processing facility.

Rezoning for a massive “food/beverage processing facility” near the Vedder overpass was on the council agenda Tuesday.

Although the staff report does not identify the applicant, The Progress reported in June when a Molson Coors rep confirmed that Chilliwack is the “preferred” location for the new brewery being relocated from Vancouver.

While the due diligence for the project is being completed by Molson Coors, there would be no other details released, the rep said. CEPCO had been working closely with the brewery giant on the site search process.

The rezoning proposal was expected to get introduction and first reading by council this week.

The site plan released this week ahead of the rezoning depicts a large area on Elder Avenue, featuring seven properties with a combined area of about 1.9 hectares (4.8 acres) to be rezoned to an AFP zone.

“The subject properties are occupied by single family dwellings; however, only one is currently occupied and the remainder vacant,” according to the staff report.

It would be a consolidation of those seven properties, added to those already zoned AFP (Agricultural Food Processing zone), to facilitate the first phase of construction on a 21300 sq. m. facility for “beverage” processing, packaging, warehousing, offices, staff amenities and more, according to city documents.

The sale of the Burrard Street brewery site in Vancouver went through on March 31, with Concord Pacific acquiring it for $185 million. That’s when the site search began.

The rezoning would change the zoning from an AL (Agriculture Lowland) Zone to an AFP (Agricultural Food Processing) Zone. The whole idea behind the AFP zone is attracting new industry and creating employment, and a brewery would fit those criteria.

Here’s the explanation in the report as to why these lots were left out initially:

“The subject properties formed part of a block application to the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) to facilitate the creation of a food processing agricultural/industrial park to enable the development of an industrial land base to attract new industry and create employment. While the Elder Avenue properties (including 45628 Elder Avenue, currently owned by BC Transportation Financing Authority) were excluded from the Agricultural Land Reserve in 2004 (ALC Resolution #50/2004), the ALC granted non-farm use approval for the adjacent lands bounded by the railway on the East and Vedder Road (and Yale Road north of Vedder Road) on the West for agriculture and food processing.

The lands adjacent the Elder properties were later rezoned in 2006 to an AFP Zone, for processing and storage activities, all in compliance with the non-farm use approval by the ALC.

“The Elder Avenue properties did not form part of that rezoning application and remained within the AL Zone.”

The location is bordered by Kerr Avenue, Vedder and Highway 1, and the footprint of the total area would be similar in size to the Cottonwood Mall, for comparison.

Expansion is already being envisioned down the line.

“The applicant indicates potential for future expansion of the facility to approximately 45,000 sq. m.”

If council approves introduction and first reading of the rezoning bylaw, the public hearing will be July 19.

At the same time as the rezoning application, “the applicant has submitted a Development Variance Permit application to increase the maximum permitted height within the AFP Zone from 15 m to 25 m, to facilitate the construction of the proposed new facility.”

The proposed amendment bylaw requires approval of the Ministry of Transportation given the location of the subject lands within 800m of Highway 1.

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